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Oscar Murillo: Frequencies

Known for his large-scale paintings, Oscar Murillo's expanding practice, which includes performance, sculpture, installation, and video, has helped define him as one of the most dynamic artists of his generation.

Local in his interest in community and family, but global in his approach to art making, Murillo's creative explorations present us with some of the most pressing questions facing us today: how do communities define themselves, and how can a single individual—an artist—help facilitate communication between them and the larger world? 

Frequencies is a long-term project conceived in collaboration with writer Clara Dublanc that begins to offer answers to these questions through painting and drawing. In 2013, Murillo began sending squares of raw canvas to selected schools in over twenty countries around the world, with the sole requirement that they be affixed to desks and illustrated by students. The canvases would stay there for a year and then be re-collected by the artist. Within weeks of their arrival, children from places as disparate as China and Slovenia began to draw, paint, write, and communicate, creating documents of their social and educational experiences. Frequencies catalogues the first year of Murillo's exploration, with intimate photographs of the participants and the project's myriad steps—the arrival of canvases to different schools, the process of wrapping desks, the students at work, and the final products. Designed by OMO Creates in close collaboration with the artist, the book not only brings together a vast amount of material now collected in the eponymous archive, with over six hundred pages of detailed spreads, but is itself an extension of the project—an ongoing catalogue that charts the creation of artworks as a communal and global endeavor.

“Love notes next to abstract images, pop references next to palimpsests so dense they can hardly be read. At times, the canvases look subtle and sophisticated, at others simple and innocent. Together, they present us with a vivid and mysterious visual map of student experiences around the world.”

– Lucas Zwirner, Cultured Magazine

“By broadening and democratising art, Murillo is conveying his most powerful messages concerning social mobility, globalisation and cultural diversity.”

– Rebecca Steel, Culture Trip

“The children’s mark-making reveals fascinating traces of language, different materials, popular imagery and social interests, and cultural differences across the world. The process enables pupils to voice their creativity through art making that is free from censorship.”

– University of Cambridge Museums & Botanic Garden

“A global initiative attempting to cover school desktops into canvases to encourage children to paint on them, effectively creating one large, internationally scattered work.”

– Staff, Artnet

More books from this author: Oscar Murillo